Four employees of best Buy’s Geek Squad were reportedly paid by the FBI to search computers, and turn over a customer.
The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the FBI for release of information about the FBI’s 10-year secret relationship with Best Buy, notes KPIX.
After several months, the FBI finally released redacted documents to the EFF.
Best Buy confirmed that four Geek Squad employees were paid by the FBI after they turned over a computer that allegedly had child pornography in 2011 (the charges were dropped by a federal judge), reports KPIX.
Best Buy claimed it was very poor judgment and a violation of company policy, but one pos the employees is still working for Best Buy.
Aaron Mackey, a lawyer with the EFF, told KPIX:
We’re very concerned about the FBI using Geek Squad employees or any computer repair facility employees to potentially, you know, get a back door around our Fourth Amendment rights.
Court papers say that Best Buy invited the FBI for a tour of its Louisville, Kentucky facility, called Geek Squad City, which receives repairs from nearly 1,000 stores, in 2008.
Mackey told KPIX:,
When the FBI is actually rewarding employees of Best Buy for finding this information and potentially directing them and engaging in sort of an ongoing, multi-year relationship with managers and others at this facility, it raises the question as to how much are they now just employees and technicians at Best Buy doing their job and happening across this or are they actively searching for it in the hopes of obtaining future rewards.
Best Buy countered in a statement:
Our employees do not search for this material; they inadvertently discover it … We have a moral and, in more than 20 states, a legal obligation to report these findings to law enforcement. We share this policy with our customers in writing before we begin any repair.
Best Buy did not explain how the content was “inadvertently” discovered, but the FBI appeared to confirm the searches by the Geek Squad — “effort to glean case initiations” — in court documents:
The Louisville Division has maintained close liaison with the Geek Squad’s management in an effort to glean case initiations and to support the division’s computer intrusion and cyber-crime programs.